In this word exclusive, The Bug can reveal that shattered former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has responded to losing the unloseable election by turning his hand to romance-fiction writing to clear his mind and refocus his future.
With Mr Shorten’s permission, The Bug is proud to reprint an extract from his first venture into such fiction, The Woes of Willamena, a searing account of teenage schoolgirl angst and, as might surprise many, the power of young lesbian love.
It is to be published next month.
Alone and horribly despondent at the rear of the school library at lunch break, Willamena Shawtown cursed herself for her silliness as she felt another wave of emotion overcome her.
“You silly, silly girl,” she muttered as she tried valiantly to suppress the fresh sobs marshalling their forces deep within her shattered being.
The only solace out of her predicament was that none of her vicious senior classmates who had driven her to such despair were watching her now.
“Oh, wouldn’t they be loving this,” she muttered, all alone in that library at the local Catholic parish school, Saint Frank Ingcredit College for Chaste Ladies run by the tough but fair Blessed Hymen Intactica Order of Nuns in leafy Toorak in Melbourne’s silvertail heart.
She surrendered quickly once more, her sobs coming in pounding waves like one of those relentless canings from the Mother Superior with Father O’Shannessy watching on, his eyes narrowing in disgust at Willamena’s latest indiscretion, a wad of tissues in one hand, the holy bible in the other.
This fresh feeling of utter sadness was stronger than the last and she sobbed uncontrollably, her small but pert breasts heaving as her slim, 18-year-old body, honed by her solid work as goal attack on the school’s senior netball side, wracked itself in physical pain; Willamena’s mind equally awash with mental shame.
“What on earth possessed me to run for school captain?” she asked herself for the umpteenth time.
But she already knew the answer to that. While her working-class parents had striven hard to give her this prestigious private-school education they had been denied, they had also taught Willamena to know right from wrong.
And they had also imbued Willamena with sufficient self belief that she simply had to try to put right the many injustices she had witnessed at the college.
She had always known that her ambition to oust existing school captain Miranda Scotson would not be easy but she was stunned with the level of vitriol and hatred unleashed on her in the week leading up to the vote, especially after the debate against Miranda in the sports hall.
Up until then Willamena had fitted in reasonably well. Not by conventional standards beautiful, she was pretty enough. When the time was right, some decent young man was not going to say no.
She wasn’t too tall, or too good in class or on the sports oval. She didn’t have fancy shoes or expensive casual wear. She blended in. Not quite the inner circle but accepted enough.
Sure, she got the occasional “we’d better shout Willamena what with her poor background and everything” down at the local Maccas but she was part of the gang. But, boy, did that change when she announced her intention to run for school captain!
At that leaders’ debate, she had stumbled ever so slightly over one of her campaign pledges and while the reaction of some of her Year 12 enemies, such as Skye Knewes, Sunrise Onseven and Rue P’Srottenrags was predictable, she was stung by the trenchant criticisms levelled at her by the likes of Cassa Barridy, whom she had always thought was a fair and reasonable sort of girl.
Cassa had banged on and on about her supposed gaffe. Willamena’s insiders told her she kept harping about it at half-day sports on the Friday and again before Sunday mass.
It was like Cassa just couldn’t help joining in to drag down the election frontrunner with everyone else. Only one girl, Trisha Patkavelas, told Cassa on the Sunday to stop being so unfair.
A tearful Willamena only wish she’d been there to see Cassa’s response when Trisha told her: “It was no biggie. Give it and her a break, for fuck’s sake.” It’s lucky none of the staff heard that one or Father O’Shannessy would have been rushing excitedly to the college’s admin wing, his cassock flowing behind him.
The election turned out to be a disaster for Willamena, even though she was the favourite for the post for the entire week of campaigning.
One of her closest friends Greta Rasprowicz had remained confident Willamena would win easily, and this gave the candidate hope because Greta was generally spot on with her predictions, what with her being a Pole and everything.
But then the dirty tricks began. And alone in that library, Willemena once more cursed herself for being so hurt by the lies flung at her by Miranda Scotson and her bitchy supporters.
Willamenia was accused of being a constant liar and a brown-nosing sycophant trying to get her scrawny legs under the tables of the privileged, upper-class folk way beyond her station in life.
Even though Willamena knew her legs were anything but scrawny and were indeed one of her best features, it was the lies that really hurt. That Willamena was proposing a school uniform tax. A sports day tax. A pickup parent’s vehicle tax. A tampon tax.
Another student from a very wealthy family, Claudia Parmer, got her parents to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars writing to all the parents and guardians of each and every student at Saint Frank’s, calling on them to urge their offspring to vote against Willamena’s “thousands of dollars in extra school costs and imposts”.
But what fed Willamena’s grief more than anything was that the violent, senseless and hurtful victimisation had not abated since her defeat at the election.
In fact, it had gotten worse. Like a pack of dogs on a wounded bird, many of the college students had bitchily doubled down in the intensity of their attacks on her.
Her lithe body was again wracked with spasms at that thought and her heaving breasts forced her nipples against the soft lining of her 32B pale-apricot Wonderlust bra.
Her nipnaps tingled and hardened, something that Willamena would normally have been embarrassed about, just as it sometimes happened in her canings with the Mother Superior, especially when she saw Father forced to adjust his robes as he struggled to hide his disgust for her latest misdemeanour.
But in her current state this untimely sexual awakening gave her some sense of comfort to wage war against her woes and she stubbornly made no apologies to herself for that as she pressed her sodden handkerchief firmly into her lap.
Alone in that library, Willamena controlled her sobs just long enough to silently pose the question: “Is there anyone out there who likes me for who I am?”
“Someone who maybe even love me for the person I am and the things I hold dear?”
Little did the dear, dear girl realise, as a fresh wave of emotion rose to claim her, that those questions would be answered far sooner than she would ever have thought or hoped possible.
To be continued.